How to Get a Roofing Contractor’s License

commercial roof foamingToday, we provide a general overview of how to get a contractor’s license and to start building a roofing or construction business.

There are many great opportunities to build a strong, profitable company in the building industry. In just the commercial roofing industry, there are billions of dollars spent every year. But there is an essential first step toward building any successful building company: getting a contractor’s license. Contractor license requirements differ from state to state, and the process of becoming a licensed contractor may be unclear because of these differences alone.

However, getting a contractor license can ultimately be reduced to four basic steps: determining your scope of services, requesting and filling out an application, completing required testing, and submitting the licensing application for certification. Here are a few details to keep in mind while doing each step.

Contractor License Requirements

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    1.      Determine the field of work you want to be licensed for. In their laws, states distinguish between different types of contracting work and may offer different licensing for those separate fields of contracting work. For instance, the state of Arkansas has different commercial contracting work classifications called “Heavy Construction”, which includes construction work on mining surfaces and underground facilities, oilfields, tunnels and dams, and more, and “Building Contracting”, which is a comprehensive list of more general construction services, including roofing projects and commercial building remodeling and renovations. In other cases, some states will distinguish between residential and commercial contracting work and then require separate builder licenses for each. Because these classifications – and their licensing requirements—can be extensive, it is best to identify beforehand the scope of the services you will offer. That will help you effectively manage your time.
    2.      Request an application and fill it out. Naturally, filling out all of the necessary paperwork is a big step in obtaining licensed certification. An important thing to note— almost all 50 states have basic requirements for applicants. These requirements are the same, if not very much so, across nearly all state laws. Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are some of the requirements:

    • Being at least 18 years of age
    • Evidence of high school education completion or equivalent
    • Evidence of legal residency or citizenship within the United States
    • Documentation of other occupational licenses held within a given state
    • Passport-sized photo documentation of applicant (usually 2 photos required)
    • Company registration with your Secretary of State office
    • Some states require surety bonds and criminal background checks, including fingerprint scanning

    Contractor licensing applications are typically provided by your Secretary of State’s office. Many Secretaries of State have made these applications available for download and/or electronic submittal. Check with your Secretary of State office for more information about the proper state authorities to contact if their office does not handle state licensing.

    3.      Complete and pass all required testing. Written examinations are required by many states for tradecraft licensing. For state projects, questionnaires will be required for job bidding. You will be required to pay fees for the written examination, along with other fees required for the roofing contractor license in your state. Written examination fees are typically nonrefundable and can range from $50-100, sometimes more. States also differ in whether or not they allow open-book testing. Some important to details to keep in mind about the written examinations for state licensing are the following:

    • The numbers of the question on the tests vary from state to state. Many states have written exams with 50-150 questions, many if not all are multiple choice or short answering in different formats.
    • Content will be focused on the particular trade you are seeking licensing for. For construction, this can include contract and project management; trade-specific content; financials and tax law information; licensing, estimating, and building; and more.
    • Many states require previous experience specific to the trade you are applying for licensing in, or previous experience in the general classification your trade falls into. An example includes 4 years of construction experience for taking a construction exam. Some states require training courses as well.
    • States differ in how much time they give for testing. Many states offer 3-4 hours to complete the entire test.

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    4.      Submit your application. Once you have finished all of the steps above, it is time to submit your application for review. Make sure that you have filled out all of the sections on your application. Ensuring that all applicable fees have been paid for is essential as well. Fees can include application processing fees, filing fees, testing fees, training course fees, licensing fees, and criminal background fees; they will differ from state to state. Many roofing contractor licenses are good for two years before they expire. If your company has already been licensed in your state of business residence and is looking to perform contracting work in another state, be sure to give yourself plenty of time for your license to be approved. Some construction companies do not allot themselves enough time between when they apply for licensing, complete the requirements, and receive the license before they begin bidding. Always make sure to get your license beforehand so that you cut down on any timing complications or ethical issues.


    Need Help Determining Your State’s Contracting License Requirements?

    Choice Roof Contractor Group represents a great opportunity for breaking into commercial roofing. You can call us at 800-670-5583 for help and we’ll connect you to one of the contractors.

    Our members enjoy many exclusive benefits. These benefits include: lead sharing, advanced commercial roof systems training, lifetime mentorship from highly successful roofing contractors, proven marketing strategies from others, and more. Members of Choice Roof Contractors offer building owners unbeatable advantages over the competition.

    Once you come on board with our network, we are 100% behind you. Be sure to ask how we can help you build your roofing business or division, or take it to the next level.


    Ian Myers on Linkedin
    Written by: Ian Myers
    Ian Myers
    Ian was the very first team member brought on by the original co-founders of the Choice Roof Contractor Group to assist with nationwide growth. Since then he has written 120+ blog posts and provided excellent support to the roofing contractors in the group. Through his multiple roles in the commercial roofing industry, he has gained tremendous knowledge in the sector.